FIRE and rescue bosses are considering a new day shift station in the Forest of Dean as part of plans to increase cover across the county.
The preferred option, which is due to be considered by Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet this week, could see an extra 14 firefighters recruited.
Currently all stations in the Forest of Dean are run by retained firefighters but Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) chiefs say data shows there is a need for more cover particularly in the Cinderford area.
The prereferred option, if adopted and ultimately approved, is expected to cost some £750,000 in revenue spend and £150,000 in capital investment. And it would not be implemented before the 2025/26 financial year.
The report includes a request to start a public consultation in March to hear the views and feedback. As part of the steps to increase fire cover in line with risk and demand, they will also consult on potential changes to shift patterns.
Fire chiefs say shifts currently change at their busiest time and they believe the proposed changes would provide better cover.
The shift pattern changes from nine-hour-day and 15-hour-night shifts to 12-hour shifts could improve the ability to have the right people, in the right place to respond to emergencies and provide prevention and community safety as well as benefit the health and safety of firefighters.
GFRS wants to ensure it keeps communities safe through reviewing its resources to meet its priorities outlined in its Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2022-2026.
Chief fire officer Mark Preece said: “We need to ensure that we continually assess how we best serve the communities of Gloucestershire. After reviewing the modelling and available data in accordance with our CRMP 2022-2026 priorities we are asking to consult on an increase of fire cover within the county.
“We want to ensure we have the right people, in the right place, at the right time to provide emergency response, community prevention and safety needs across the county.
“The proposals ask to consult with the public, our workforce and stakeholders to increase fire cover across the county, including options around shift patterns.”
Fire and Rescue Service cabinet member Dave Norman (C, Grange) said no decisions will be made until the consultation is concluded.
“The proposal to consult is to ensure that not only does the fire and rescue service look at the data and the modelling for efficiencies, but that it importantly seeks the public’s, workforce and stakeholders’ views as part of the decision-making process.
“The proposals to consult on increasing fire cover and potential to change shift patterns is to ensure that we seek views on how the fire and rescue service continues to keep our communities safe.
“The proposed 12-week consultation will open at the start of March, to give everyone an opportunity to look at the proposal in detail and to tell us what they think. No decisions or changes to fire resources will be made until the consultation is concluded.”
Other options include consulting on moving the whole-time night shifts from Cheltenham West and Stroud to Cinderford and Cirencester as whole-time day shifts or to consult on retaining staffing levels at all existing stations and establish two new day shift stations at Cirencester and Cinderford.
This would be an increase of 28 firefighter/crew/watch manager positions. Cabinet could also decide to do nothing, however this is highly unlikely.